One hundred and six years after it was built, a department in George Davis Hall is scheduled for renovations.
The upcoming Economics Department renovations mark the first time any of the building’s current classrooms will get revamped, a project spearheaded by Dean Laura Behling and Director of Facilities Services Scott Maust and made possible by a large donation from Knox alumnus and Board of Trustees member Laura Rosene ’90. All changes will be executed exclusively by Knox maintenance staff over the summer.
Constructed in 1910, GDH served as the sciences building until the Umbeck Math and Science Center was built in the 1970s. GDH was then repurposed as the social sciences building and has seen scant renovations since then. The latest renovations occurred four years ago and included building a new office in the Economics Department and adding the Burkhardt Computer Lab.
Both students and professors were invited to share what they want to see in the new spaces. The renovation is intended to be very collaborative in nature.
The goal is to make the department reflect the working environment that students will be entering after graduation. Currently, all the desks are individual and separate, and do not leave room for much collaborative effort. More modern classroom furniture can easily be used as tables, and include collaborative tools such as white-boards and other technology.
The first floor of GDH houses three classrooms utilized by the department, in addition to the Economics and Business and Management office spaces, which includes the Economics lounge. Currently, the lounge contains one old couch and a table with four chairs, very similar to the furniture found in dorm buildings. The lounge, in addition to the classrooms, will be renovated.
Professor of Economics Carol Scotton hopes to see more technology at work in the space. She wants wall space to be used more effectively, possibly by putting up more chalk boards or white boards. Scotton also hopes to see the table area expanded so that more than four students can sit at a time.
“To have more collaborative spaces is a big thing, that’s something we really want to encourage,” Strotter said.
The three classrooms are also used by the Anthropology/Sociology, Education and Language Departments, so these departments will weigh in on what they want to see in these spaces, too.
Bigger issues that the building faces, such as its ventilation problems, will most likely not be fixed under the renovation, which is primarily dedicated to design, furniture, paint, lighting and flooring, according to Vice President for Advancement Beverly Holmes.
“My feeling is, once people see what we can do with renovating the first floor, we hopefully can attract other donors, either individuals or classes, who can help us renovate the other two floors as well,” said Holmes, who communicated with Rosene, an economics major now working in human resources, about the donation for the renovation.
Rosene and her husband, Scott Toop, wanted to make a donation to Knox to help build the school. After touring the campus in February, they decided that renovating the first floor of GDH would be a great investment. They donated $150,000 for the renovation, with an additional $100,000 to be endowed. The interest that the money collects will go towards funding economics research conducted by Knox students.
Rosene decided to choose GDH as the use for the donation after noting to Holmes that she learned and taught in these exact classrooms without them ever looking any different.
The new first floor of GDH will be complete when students return to campus in the fall.